Syndrome de Paris

Paris Exposition: Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, 1900

Paris Syndrome or Syndrome de Paris is a temporary psychological condition suffered by some visitors to Paris. When great expectations meet the gritty reality of Paris life (e.g. dog poo) severe culture shock can set in.

Most victims are Japanese women their 30s, who after being fed a lifetime of highly romanticized images (Amelie, À bout de souffle, Love in the Afternoon – and other top films to see Paris on the silver screen) cannot not handle the gritty reality of Paris life. As Paris Syndrome affects about 12 Japanese tourists a year, the Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hotline in place and can offer help in case of hospitalization. Discovered by Professor Hiroaki Ota, a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, it is similar to Stendahl syndrome.

As the the BBC said in its discussion of Paris Syndrome“[m]any of the visitors come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris [but the] reality can come as a shock. An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures. But for the Japanese – used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger – the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much.”

If you’ve been to Nippon, the Japanese’s romantic vision of Paris will come as no surprise – Tokyo is awash with French brands and pâtisseries – you’ll even spot an Eiffel-inspired lattice tower on the skyline. Viz, my buddy Richard & I near the Tokyo Tower in 2007:

The Eiffel inspired Tokyo Tower

Can you say baby-faced? Anyway, I’m sure I will be in full control of my psyche and expectations when I land at Orly, Paris in just 26 days… but it’s best to be prepared!

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